Thursday, June 11, 2009

from a pebble of the margin, farewell


















On the shore stood Hiawatha,
Turned and waved his hand at parting;
On the clear and luminous water
Launched his birch canoe for sailing,
From the pebbles of the margin
Shoved it forth into the water;
Whispered to it, "Westward! westward!"
And with speed it darted forward.
And the evening sun descending
Set the clouds on fire with redness,
Burned the broad sky, like a prairie,
Left upon the level water
One long track and trail of splendor,
Down whose stream, as down a river,

Westward, westward Hiawatha
Sailed into the fiery sunset,
Sailed into the purple vapors,
Sailed into the dusk of evening:
And the people from the margin
Watched him floating, rising, sinking,
Till the birch canoe seemed lifted
High into that sea of splendor,
Till it sank into the vapors

Like the new moon slowly, slowly
Sinking in the purple distance.

And they said, "Farewell forever!"
Said, "Farewell, O Hiawatha!"
And the forests, dark and lonely,
Moved through all their depths of darkness,

Sighed, "Farewell, O Hiawatha!"
And the waves upon the margin
Rising, rippling on the pebbles,
Sobbed, "Farewell, O Hiawatha!"
And the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,
From her haunts among the fen-lands,
Screamed, "Farewell, O Hiawatha!"
Thus departed Hiawatha,
Hiawatha the Beloved,
In the glory of the sunset,
In the purple mists of evening,
To the regions of the home-wind,
Of the Northwest-Wind, Keewaydin,
To the Islands of the Blessed,
To the Kingdom of Ponemah,
To the Land of the Hereafter!


-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)



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17 comments:

Friko said...

Farewell, Farewell, oh fare thee well........

Sad it may be but it is also telling us of the great unknown into which we all must go.

If we could do it with half as much dignity as the poet gives Hiawatha, how lucky we would be.

bookmanie said...

Very nice poem, Lydia. "Writing is an art that belongs to those who send messages that emerges from the depths of their being." Bookmanie.

Unseen Rajasthan said...

Excellent Post and the best part of this is the photograph.I loved the men praying to lord sun..Great..Also I Have Started My Own Website And Would Like You To Have A Look At It.I Would Love To Have Your Comments On That Also.Unseen Rajasthan

the watercats said...

I love Hiawatha! My mum used to have the poem in a beautiful book when I was a kid, along with an aged copy of the ancient mariner. They were two of the most magical books to look through as a kid, they just oozed specialness and the writing and stories were mesmerising... Unfortunately, both books got lost/stolen on one of the family moves.... Thanks for posting this, it was lovely reading again :-D

Darlene said...

Longfellow's words are a beautiful and, of course, poetic way of describing death. If I were planning a memorial service I would want to include this poem.

Thank you, Lydia, for bringing back the long forgotten words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and for including the painting.

P. S. I hope I have corrected my post.

Lydia said...

Regarding concepts of death, I just visited Beth's fine art blog and saw another one of her amazing cloud paintings, this one an angel over a cemetery. see the cloud angel.

Lydia said...

@Friko- How beautiful your words were, and really choked me up. Thank you.

@bookmanie- The quote you shared here is a perfect description of Longfellow, I think. :)

@Unseen Rajasthan- Thank you for reading this post and leaving your deeply felt comments. I will absolutely come by your blog; the title alone is most intriguing!

@the watercats- Our child spirits have met and rejoiced in Hiawatha! The book was a gift to me from a friend of my mother's and although I read it so many times it is in really great shape because I cared for it well, treasuring it the way I did. When it came time to get the painting I found it online but with a huge watermark across it and not for free. I thought, heck, I'll just scan the one from my book and it was special holding it again.

@Darlene- Ah! And yet another who truly appreciates Longfellow! This is great. I never thought of this for a memorial service, but wouldn't that be just perfect? I hope you'll advise your family that you would like this at yours (years and years from now), otherwise they would never know.....

Laurie said...

What a great poem. Very moving!
Laurie

Citizen of Earth said...

One of my favorites
I read this over & over as a child
I had found an ancient volume in my grandparents house
And I kept it under my bed on the tree farm
On those endless summer days and nights

Nights were quiet there
No TV...

The Stylish House said...

Hi Lydia,
I saw a comment you left on Steinar’s photography blog from Iceland. I used to live in Beaverton, so remember the whale incident vividly. I moved from Beaverton 10 years ago to live in Dubai and I am back in the States now. Portland had a nice vibe and I miss Cannon Beach. I can already tell I am going to like following you, because we like the same movies. I don’t know anyone else who liked Julia or Red’s. Stop by my site anytime it is always nice to meet a new friend.
This poem is lovely, sad but dignified. ~Cathy~

Erin Davis said...

I haven't read this poem in years. Thanks for bringing a little Longfellow into my life when I least expect it!

Owen said...

Hi Lydia, great post; a fine poem and excellent image to complement it.

Are you familiar with the photos and life story of Edward Curtis ? If not, he was an amazing guy who spent decades photographing the disappearing Indian cultures. There are a number of websites where you can see his work. Funny, I did a post a while back showing a photo by Curtis, which is quite similar to your image here, although a different color scheme :

http://magiclanternshowen.blogspot.com/2008/10/into-shadow.html

Have a great weekend !

Lydia said...

@Laurie- It really is good to read it once again!

@Citizen of Earth- See my comment above to the watercats, re: childhood kindreds.
I can practically feel the Once-upon-a-time room you describe.

@The Stylish House- I'm anxious to come over to your blog as soon as I finish comments! Is this Six-Degrees of Keiko the Killer Whale, maybe? Small world, and, yes, great to make new friends in it.

@Erin- I'm thinking the next kid gift I must give shall be a copy of Hiawatha. Certainly he has resonated here... :)

@Owen- Thanks for your kind comments. Absolutely am a fan of the work of Edward Curtis. In awe of what he accomplished, captured, recorded. Can't wait to read your post about him. Thanks for letting me know about it.

Jennifer said...

I ... I ... know nothing (or close to nothing) about Hiawatha. Yet another gap in my education, but you've sparked my curiosity.

"from a pebble of the margin, farewell" is a great post title, derived from the poem, but also going beyond it. Perfect.

distracted by shiny objects said...

I am sorry for your loss.

Owen said...

Lydia, If you are a fan of Edward Curtis and Robert Service, WOW !, you are OK by me !!! Can't wait to see what's coming next in your pages...

Thanks for your comment on/adoption of that back post, that was in the very early days of my humble little blog, when for months on end zero comments was the norm...

Lydia said...

@Jennifer- You know it just might be a book to share with G. I bet he'd love it!
Once again, you "got" that there was more meaning to the title than, well, just a title.

@Distracted- Just left comments at your blog that say more, but I am sorry for your loss as well.

@Owen- And, my sympathy to you, also, as I read your comments about your loss at Distracted's blog with your amazing poem. I think we need a group hug:
(((((((hughughughughug)))))))

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